Eja, Clade
Clade Eja
Image from Orion's Arm Contributors
The most successful of the provolved Bonobo clades

Introduction

Clade Eja is the first full clade that came into being as a result of the Institute for Primate Provolution, and one of the most successful. Unlike subsequent IPP clades, however, they were not planned from the outset and seem to have arisen as a historical accident. Sapientchimps and human nearbaselines were already so numerous and diverse when the IPP first came into existence that although the IPP's work had a significant influence on many of them no one of their major clades is specifically the result of the IPP's work. Sapientbonobos were at least as widespread and variable as sapientchimps, but somehow the IPP's first set of upgrades for sapientbonobos, the "Eja" template (named for the word for bonobo in an extinct Old Earth African language called Limongo), proved so popular among bonobo provolves when it was released in the 14th century that a distinct clade was the result. Many of the First Federation's most prominent ape provolves were Superiors or Superbrights descended from clade Eja, and even today they are one of the most numerous and widespread of the ape-based clades (excepting of course humans themselves).

Description

Eja are idealized sapientbonobos. They are small and slightly built, and especially lithe and graceful. They have glossy black skin, dense black fur, petite facial features, and large very dark eyes. Most have a white rump patch that is a childhood mark in chimps and sapientchimps and a distinctive adult trait in baseline bonobos. Unlike some chimp or human derived clades, Eja retain a full head of hair in adulthood. To most Terragen bionts, and even to some of the vec and AI clades that were originally programmed to work with human nearbaselines, they are attractive and unthreatening, and rather child-like in appearance. They have larger heads than baseline bonobos, a smaller average size, reduced sexual dimorphism (males typically mass 35 kilograms, while females weigh in at 30), and they sport smaller canine teeth (though they still have a formidable set compared to those of a human). Eja voices are in the upper range, comparable to that of a human twelve year old. This is a distinct contrast with the much deeper and raspier voice preferred by most sapientchimp clades.

Many Eja cultures favour flamboyant clothing and makeup, and some flashy temporary and superficial body modifications, though some Negentropist Eja favour a kind of severe and restrained elegance. By definition they have remained somewhat conservative concerning heritable changes to their appearance, though there have inevitably been some subclades and descendant tweak clades in which changes to the original Eja body shape and colour have been made permanent.

Communication, Senses, and Locomotion

No single spoken language has become customary for the clade, though there has been a tendency in recent years for Eja cultures to adopt some variation of Brev. Regardless of their spoken language, most Eja also use a supplementary language of gestures and hand signals. The Eja version of Brev makes extensive use of this parallel communications channel.

Though they are not particularly good runners, the Eja are generally extraordinary acrobats. This is especially true in microgravity. Eja flexibility and dexterity are famous; sometimes they will bring all four hands to bear when they have to deal with a complicated task. They can walk comfortably on two legs, though if they are in a hurry and have nothing in their arms they can move more rapidly by quadrupedal knuckle-walking. In either case they are slower and have less endurance along the ground than a human nearbaseline. On the other hand, they are far better climbers, having retained the long arms and prehensile feet and excellent sense of balance of the baseline bonobo form. Most Eja homes and settlements are built with this in mind, and favour climbing over walking.

Eja senses are in the typical human nearbaseline range. They are particularly likely to carry enhancements for colour perception and for examining small objects, sometimes at the expense of distance or night vision.

Lifespan and Reproduction

Eja attain their full physical size at 17 years of age, reach full sexual maturity at about 25, and become capable of fertility some time in their mid-30's. As with modern human nearbaselines, unions do not produce offspring unless both parties decide to become fertile. Eja live about as long without rejuvenation treatments as typical human nearbaselines.

Unlike humans, and some other primate provolves, the Eja do not have pair bonds or marriages. A female who wishes to bear children "holds court" over a period of weeks, and receives a variety of suitors. Eventually she may bear a single child (very rarely twins). Generally she raises that child herself, though it is the custom in most Eja cultures for the uncles and any childless aunts to provide assistance, and it is not uncommon for the local community to devise some sort of crèche arrangement.

Environmental Requirements

Eja were originally designed to live in a Terragen standard environment, though of course they had the set of microgravity adaptations developed originally for human nearbaselines and have since, like many Terragens, broadened their range of tolerance. Despite that versatility, most Eja prefer to live at no more than 1 g of acceleration, with tropical temperatures, a variety of plant and animal life, and high humidity. There are many spacer subclades, most of whom prefer to live in orwoods or other biologically derived habs.

Like most of the forest-derived primate provolves, the Eja create environments that are crowded, cluttered, and "close" by human standards. They do not have any particular liking for lake or ocean fronts, plains, or other "wide open" spaces. On the other hand have very little fear of heights.

Psychology

In general, the clade has always been comparable to the most intelligent human nearbaselines in general ability, but Clade Eja had some of the most effective and comprehensive of the early "empath" mental tweaks. They have followed this up with upgrades over the millennia since, so that now even nearbaseline equivalent Eja are in the Superbright range when it comes to social and emotional skills, whereas the Eja-derived Superior clades have natural skills in this area that seem almost magical. They are especially good with humans and ape provolves, but they do relatively well with nearly any sort of being that is at all comprehensible by a subsingularity Terragen. They are often employed as interpreters between clades, and have been heavily involved in first contact missions when xensophonts or unusual "lost" clades of Terragens are discovered. The Eja have proven to be especially compatible with the Muuh, and are active as interpreters and researchers wherever the Terragen and Muuh spheres of influence overlap.

Perhaps rightly, the Eja are feared or shunned by some, not only by those who value their privacy, or have some particular fact or emotion to conceal but also by those who simply fear being conned, or converted from their existing memeplex. Eja are often accused of being overly facile, and of being mere social chameleons or even natural traitors and liars. This in fact true of many a dishonest Eja clan or individual, but generally they are motivated to help rather than harm other sophonts. Honest or devious, it is true that Eja are particularly good at understanding other sapient beings "from the inside", and while some find this comforting and pleasant others find Eja perceptions intrusive. Most Eja are aware of this, of course, and will do what they can to put others at ease.

Eja are very emotional and "touchy-feely" by nature. Though of course they are adaptable their own preference is to take the time for social niceties. Traditional Eja greetings are usually on the lines of "how are you?", and within Eja society the subsequent conversation can be time consuming, sometimes to the exasperation of other, more logic and task oriented individuals. Eja etiquette in this regard may be as complex as that surrounding an Old Earth Japanese tea ceremony, or (even more maddeningly) may be freeform, with a thousand unspoken rules. Eja also retain the old bonobo baseline habit of casual sex play, to an extent that some cultures in other clades find shocking and disgusting. Naturally, given Eja sensibilities, they usually rein this tendency in when those who might be offended are present.

Eja playfulness and curiosity are nearly as famous as their empathic tendencies. Other clades, in which these traits moderate with age, may mistakenly perceive Eja as children. While they do carry both to extremes that may seem impractical, such attitudes also tend to make Ejas and Eja societies in general, particularly inventive. Eja enthusiasm for novelty does sometimes need tempering with caution and common sense, however. Eja innovators often become too emotionally attached to their new ideas to evaluate their usefulness.

As they tend not to show overt aggression, and tend to avoid what they see as unnecessary danger and discomfort, the Eja are sometimes thought of as cowards, but this is not the case. It is true that, excepting the members of a few "warrior" cultures that developed during the Version War, Eja are not early joiners in any conflict, whether it be a war or merely a brawl, but they can show courage as great as or greater than that of any of the more militant clades. The most famous example is that of the Eja who protected and guided refugees during the Pure Soul pogroms, and frequently gave their lives to do so. Lesser dramas of this sort are played out every day by Eja scientists or aid workers operating at the fringes of Sephirotic space. Curiosity or altruism can provoke them to brave dangers that might cause sterner (but perhaps wiser) individuals to prudently turn tail.

Society

Eja societies tend to lack well defined hierarchies. One's place depends very much on one's set of personal relationships rather than on technical skills, wealth, or inherited status, and that place is subject to sudden changes as such relationships rearrange themselves over time.

In the larger world of the Terragen milieu (and most Eja elect to be members of diverse societies rather than live in one-clade polities), Eja are often memetic experts of one sort or another: publicists, therapists, mediators, spies, actors, prophets, merchants, teachers, ambassadors, and propagandists, to name just a few roles. Those who remained with the IPP are considered to be that organization's memetic "shock troops"; more to be feared, in their way, than the military might of the Metal Monkey clade. Sophonts in other clades who are inclined to conspiracy theories believe (with no particular evidence) that the entire Eja clade is still working with IPP objectives in mind, and has been manipulating Terragen history for over eight thousand years. It is true that fashions adopted by the Eja have a way of spreading rapidly throughout the Terragen sphere, especially to the primate-based clades. For instance the Eja are largely responsible for the popularization of Clade Patternism, and some of Ecos Ascending's techniques, and it is notable that the founder of the New Beneficence was an Eja-descended Superior.

Whatever their other roles, the Eja are particularly good at insinuating themselves into a society and economy, and particularly into nearbaseline human cultures or those that resemble them. In fact, if they do not restrain themselves they may achieve dominance in such places merely by being so helpful and understanding towards all concerned. Though Eja often decline to become rulers or administrators themselves, they are often advisors to the powerful.

The Eja are dispersed throughout Sephirotic space, and are known to be active in the periphery everywhere that Terragen bionts are found. Though a large number joined other empath clades in the Communion of Worlds, they are also quite common in the NoCoZo, the Zoeific Biopolity, and as members of the Deeper Covenant. As Deepers they usually work as specialists who help preserve internal harmony among the Deepers and serve as agents in negotiations with polities linked to the beamrider network. In most times and places Eja have been and well liked and are highly valued. Their attractive and unthreatening appearance and their generally sensitive and helpful behaviour and good natured demeanour virtually guarantee that general reaction in those who meet them. Despite this, their tendency to achieve key positions in their polities has led to some anti-Eja sentiment, and there are a large number of "Eja" conspiracy theories current at any one time. These are particularly current in some human nearbaseline societies, and as part of anti-biont movements in certain vec clades. In areas outside Sephirotic control Eja are sometimes accused of being agents for one or another (or perhaps all) of the Sephirotic powers. There they may be targeted for by anything from bullies to assassins, or may even be subject to genocidal anti-Eja movements.

Religious Eja are best known as adherents of the New Beneficence, but there are many who hold to the ancient faiths such as Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Christianity (in their own perhaps somewhat odd interpretation), or to some of the widespread Sephirotic religions such as Solarism. They tend to choose religions that promote charitable action and emotional public gatherings or (if they adopt one that does not emphasize these) to add or enhance such elements. They tend to steer clear of the more warlike memeplexes, or those that promote abstinence or solitary meditation. Whatever memeticity they adopt, they are consummate missionaries: strongly committed, and able to address and persuade a wide range of potential audiences. They may in fact be single-handedly responsible for the survival of some religions.

The most famous Eja artists have been poets or script writers, or performing artists of one sort or another, but they also tend to excel as weavers or painters. Eja music is enjoyable to many other clades as well, and human nearbaselines in particular often find Eja choral performances attractive, perhaps because Eja singers sound like human children.

Transapient post-Eja are frequently placed in charge of angelnet operations, since they are more than usually likely to retain a concern for the welfare of subsingularity beings (and, it is said, an inclination to pry into private lives and private thoughts).

History

Since their genesis in the 14th century a.t. the Eja have spread far and wide, prospered. They like to raise children, and are personally successful, and have therefore become quite numerous, though still orders of magnitude less common than human nearbaselines. The Eja have been equally fertile as a clade. They have given rise to several descendant clades or sub-clades, including a variety of tweaks and Superior clades as well as a large number of post-Eja transapients. Their influence on Terragen history and culture has been diffuse but pervasive (anti-Eja sophonts would say pernicious), rather like that of the Institute that gave rise to them in the first place. A notable recent event has been the advice that Eja working for the IPP gave to Fabers in the genesis of the new xenosophont provolve clade, the Jade Chime Singers. Some see strong Eja influence in the course of that work. But then, some sophonts, perhaps excessively suspicious, see Eja influence in nearly every event.

Quotes

"But enough about business. How are you feeling?" — traditional Eja phrase

"Those Eja are just so damn friendly and helpful you never know what they're really up to. It makes me sick. Pretty soon they'll be running the whole polity." — overheard in a neb bar



Taxonomic Note: the sapientbonobos of Bolobo have many features in common with clade Eja, but are genetically more closely related to the original provolves first developed in the first century a.t.


 
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 19 September 2005.